When the Poor Dog is One Step Below the Toddler on the Food Chain

I was poking around old photos today in my archives and found one of my toddler daughter, her arms wrapped round a dog wearing a pair of antlers. That poor dog … It seemed an appropriate time to drag out this gem from 2007:

I’m starting to feel bad for my dog.  Raised to believe she was the most important creature in the Sager household – a position proven by her possession of the coveted bottom half of our queen-sized bed – Livvy became a sad sack second banana when Jillian came home from the hospital.

First there was the whimpering at the door blocking her from ascending the stairs and taking her rightful spot in the bed.

After all, we couldn’t have her rolling over the baby in the middle of the night.  Then began the constant “shush, shooosh, shooshing,” as we clamped her jaws shut, afraid her raucous greetings were going to wake the baby.

As Jillian learned to crawl and then pull up, Livvy became an obstacle to be climbed over, an object to be grabbed with clenched fists and pushed on as leverage to help attain full height.

And most recently, she’s been dealt the ultimate blow.

As she wanders the house, tail wagging furiously, nose sniffing out abandoned animal crackers covered in slobber and half-eaten bits of chicken nuggets stashed in the cushions of the couch, Livvy has judge and jury watching every move.

“Nooooo,” Jillian shrieks. “Naughty!”

“No, no, no,” she yells. “Naughty!”

“No puppy,” Jillian says again. “Naughty.”

The dog looks up with what can only be described as puppy dog eyes.  “What did I do to deserve this?” she seems to ask.

Her only crime – truly – is being below Jillian on the food chain.

Of course, Jillian has heard “nooooooo, naughty!” a time or two herself.

Make that a time or two, or three or four…

It’s no wonder the word “no” ranks right up there with “pizza” and “puppy” as the most oft-repeated in her toddler-sized vocabulary. Sometimes they’re all in one sentence.

A typical scene in the Sager household of late features me, notepad and pen in hand and phone nestled between my ear and shoulder while I try to conduct an interview with the utmost professionalism.

Meanwhile, underfoot is Jillian, who has claimed a piece of leftover pizza from the refrigerator, followed closely by Livvy who is salivating at the thought of a piece of pepperoni to fill the desires not satiated by Pedigree’s healthy nuggets.

My pen scrabbling across the paper, I try to keep up with a conversation while walking circles around the house playing Jillian’s favorite “I’m gonna get you!” game.

If I slow down, disaster will strike. Jillian will run into my legs, dropping her pizza, which Livvy will
grab and quite literally inhale.

That will coincide, of course, with screams, of “nooooo, puppy … nooooo, naughty! Pizzaaaaaa! Nooooo.”

I’ll have no choice.  I’ll root around in the fridge; find another food that will satisfy my daughter’s requests. She’ll return to chasing Mommy, clutching the requested food item at shoulder height just inches from the dog’s nose.  Livvy will follow, and the game will begin again.

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